The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Currently reading…Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, something I had to read in school but have forgotten much of it. I realize a city scene picture would be more appropriate but i was on the beach so…

His writing is fantastic. Everything moves in chaos in the first chapter like he intended, as if the words jump off the page and dance and fight and play—marvelous stuff!! This work actually launched a federal investigation of the working conditions for the poor!

Journaling and prayer. What are your thoughts on homemade communion?

Finished writing in an entire journal yesterday, and it’s time to begin a new one! These are my prayer journals, the worn one on the left is the old one. Took me a little over four months to fill every inch with essays on prayer and spiritual journeying. Also if you swipe you’ll see a little communion sacrament I made and gave myself this morning. Though our priest can not bless it, I said a little prayer and took it as a symbol of what we would do in church, which I feel is ok.

What are your thoughts on homemade communion during the stay at home order? .

Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner

Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner is a book about contemplating religious art with prayer in mind and using it to expand our prayer life by gazing at the face of God through it, seeing His face and meditating about the art’s purpose/story, and the artist’s time creating it. The book discusses using art as a purpose to expand our faith and awe. For instance, the artists who create icons of Christ meditate on his face for hours while painting him. Just beautiful! .

Sissinghurst by Vita Sackville-West and Sarah Raven

The sudden warm weather in Michigan has got me thinking of the garden. A couple years ago I wrote a garden blog every week dedicated to the garden writings of Vita Sackville-West. Some days I miss her writings, her wonderful way of describing “ordinary” flowers and plants like human beings. She knew them all so well—more so than humans actually which made her a bit cold when it came to her human relationships. Her friend, lover and muse, Virginia Woolf was an expert on people and enjoyed exploring the human condition. Thus being opposites, they made a nice pair. I think I have collected the entirety of Vita’s garden works. Her books helped me get through some of the most cold & dark winters of my life, she kept me alive and green. Anyone needing a little lift would be right to pick up something of hers. This book gives a great introductory view of Vita’s talented green thumb.

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Lost story about my doc martins…

Lost Story: My inconspicuous Doc Martin sneakers originally purchased as my walking shoes for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I signed up for it last November, but motherhood called & I wasn’t able to go. Now they are used to walk with the homeless when I work or visit the soup kitchen. These boots were indeed made for WALKING. Maybe they made it to Jerusalem after all. #walkwiththevoiceless

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Some books on violin making 🤗

My Christmas gift last year were these two books on violin making. I started playing the violin three-four years ago. Fed up with rental fees and my fear of tuning and touching the violin in anyway other than playing it, led me to find some cheap violins and take them a part and put them back together with new strings bridges, pegs, and in some cases a new coat of varnish. I have three violins now, one of which (the darker one pictured) was found in someone’s garbage, and the others were cheap finds on Craig’s list. I have carved bridges and made a varnish from an old 18th century recipe. I have even shaped fingerboards. My goal is to one day build my own from scratch. I continue to practice playing though not as much as I should. I like learning Irish jigs and folk songs especially. Soon I will finally finish the darker one you see pictured here. It’s finished, but I needed to reconfigure it’s bridge since it didn’t sound quite like it should. There is a lot of engineering that goes into it, but it is all very interesting to me and will give me, I’m sure, a lifetime of entertainment and teaching.

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Ingredients for making the varnish were found at @kremerpigmentsnyc in New York City

The book of Judges

“Then the Lord raised up judges who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.” –Judges 2:16

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Judges is one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. In this book, God raises up 12 judges over the course of 325 years to help keep the Israelites on the right path. I enjoyed this book because it helped me realize that I too had judges raised up for me in my life to help guide me. When my great grandpa (my grandmother’s father) died, I went 12 years before another person ‘passed through’ my life to lead me further to God. And I was lucky to have the perpetual guidance of my mother and grandmother. My other grandpa (my mother’s father) was a born again Christian and had a very aggressive approach to evangelism, but his wrong way guided me also, because I didn’t want to be like that. Since, I have thought much of my judges, and I give thanks to/for them and pray for them—which, to me, is basically any time I think of them with pure love and gratitude and meditate on their well-being with the knowledge of God’s presence(in this way many of us have ‘prayed’ without realizing it was prayer). Let us all give thanks to those who may have been our guides in the dark.

Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens

Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens is a collection of three children’s stories: A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, & The Cricket on the Hearth. According to May Lamberton Becker who wrote the introduction for this collection,

“Night after night [Dickens] tramped the dark and silent streets of London, sometimes for as many as fifteen miles, while [A Christmas Carol] lived itself out, scene by scene, before his eyes. Often his eyes were filled with tears; sometimes he laughed aloud and made such extraordinary gestures it was a good thing that sober folks were all in bed.”

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Reading Dickens one can tell he was an advocate for the poor. His father served time in a debtors’ prison, so as a result Dickens was very aware of his accounts and feared debt. He moved his family to Genoa, Italy for a time, because the cost of living was cheaper. I think his stories have helped many people emphasize with the poor and suffering, and in that alone he has done good for the world with his craft. We should all strive to do this.

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Pictured are the first couple sentences of The Chimes—pulls me right in!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I received this book as a Christmas gift from my mother when I was 12 years old. I was excited to read it, though back then I didn’t read often but liked the idea of reading books, haha. I had a nice little collection by the time I graduated high school. I loved the cozy story of these sisters and it takes place in my favorite century—the nineteenth century! Perhaps in a couple years I’ll read it with my daughter. Maybe I’ll take her to the movie first. 🙂 if you swipe you’ll see a view of our Christmas tree this year!